Keep on walking

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Every morning and most afternoons, J.D. Wells of Manila can be seen walking around town, just for the sake of walking. Wells said he doesn't have a set pattern. When he starts out each morning, he just walks where his feet take him. He presently averages 13 miles a day.

J.D. Wells

Wells, 77, has always enjoyed an active lifestyle. He started walking in 2002 and keeps a running record of the miles he walks and the temperature each day, marking it on calendars. He hasn't missed a day in over 11 years -- that's 4,073 days of consecutive walking for a total of 56,381 miles.

He started out in 2001 walking and jogging, but eventually gave up the jogging and decided to stick to walking. For some reason he missed four days in January of 2002. Since then he hasn't missed a day.

Wells was born in Etowah, near Manila, and moved to Osceola when he was nine years old. He moved to Leachville in 2001, and it was there he started his daily walks.

It doesn't get too cold or too hot for him. He has walked in temperatures ranging from four degrees to 105 degrees. The rain, heat, cold or snow do not stop him, but he does try to avoid being out in lightning storms.

Wells has slowed down just a bit this year but has managed to walk over 1,000 miles so far. He logged 390 miles in January, 396 miles in February and, as of March 21, has made it 270 miles.

He and his wife, Lola, moved to Manila in September 2012, so he has new territory for his daily walks. He likes to get an early start but also takes a second daily walk most afternoons.

Wells started smoking at age 16 and quit in 1994 at age 58. He remembers the day he quit, Jan. 2, 1994.

"We know smoking is not good for us, but it is not easy to quit," he said.

The walking and fresh air have, no doubt, helped restore his lungs.

Wells said the walking also has helped keep his reflexes sharp, which is a plus in his driving.

"I am very alert when I am driving," he said. "I am a good driver. Many times over the last 10 years I have had to avoid drivers crossing into my lane. Walking has helped me."

Wells said he gets about 800 miles out of a pair of shoes before it's time to get a new pair.

"The right shoes are important for anyone who does a lot of walking," he noted.

When Wells was younger, he enjoyed playing football, swimming, jogging, boxing and was always physically active. At age 14, some of his friends dared him to swim across the Mississippi River. He jumped out of the boat and made it safely across.

"I am sure they would have picked me up if I had got into trouble," Wells said.

Wells said everyone knows exercise is good for a person, and walking has been his choice of exercise for almost a dozen years. He doesn't like walking on a treadmill inside but prefers to be outside in the fresh air and having a time for reflection.

He has sent his walking information to the Guinness Book of Records, noting he would be willing to take a polygraph test, but has not heard back from them.

The number of miles recorded on Wells' calendars are: 2,666 miles in 2001; 4,555 miles in 2002; 5,050 miles in 2003; 5,532 miles in 2004; 5,781 miles in 2005; 5,023 miles in 2006; 4,979 miles in 2007; 4,716 miles in 2008; 5,026 miles in 2009; 4,381 miles in 2010; 5,404 miles in 2011, and 5,017 miles in 2012.

With the 1,000-plus miles already this year, he is on track to keep his average about the same. He hopes to keep walking for many years to come.

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